Infantry Kit Challenge

So, it’s long been popular to bitch and moan about how much weight our soldiers carry. Okay. Fine. It sucks to carry all that weight, true. But it’s a lot easier to complain than it is to offer solutions. So, lest you think we are cynical grognards who do nothing but complain, let’s try to offer alternatives.

In that spirit, some rules that I’ll abide by when pondering the problem. Hopefully Fishbreath will also take up the challenge. And you, dear reader, can also feel free to write in with your own ideas.

1.) A loadout should be geared towards a standard area of operations.
This is mostly to avoid nonsense like having to worry about hot and cold weather gear. Since Borgundy is a European country (for some fictitious definition of Europe), I’ll keep this kit focused on a temperate climate loadout. I might also talk changes for winter/desert/jungle, but there it is. Remember, you can focus on one area at a time and leave some things home.

2.) Basic uniform and boot weight doesn’t count
This one is another simplifier. It’s also a huge pain to find uniform weights, and is one of the most likely things to change if you’re switching climates. Plus, it varies a lot, more even than armor. And when most people think “load” they don’t count the clothes on their back or the shoes on their feet. It is assumed your soldiers wear boots and a uniform. You needn’t account for it in the table.

Do note, however, that if you choose to issue protective gear integrated into your uniform (e.g. some combat uniforms have integrated elbow/kneepad pockets) that those protective items count. So if you picked Crye’s combat uniform, say, you would need to list the weight of the elbow- and kneepads, if you chose to issue them. Supplemental stuff (poncho, poncho liner, soft shell jacket, greatcoat, etc.) does count for the weight table. This also goes for extras like spare socks. Those count for weight too.

3.) You may stipulate the sort of infantry your loadout is for (e.g. Light infantry, Motorized infantry, Mechanized infantry, etc.)
Your loadout needn’t work for all situations. You can feel free to assume your soldiers in question have to march everywhere (light infantry), get some trucks to move them (motorized infantry), or get APCs/IFVs to move them about (mechanized infantry). If they have some kind of transport, you can feel free to note things that are carried in the vehicle. These don’t count toward your weight limit (duh), but also don’t count towards the things I’m requiring on the person, like food/water/body armor below (also duh).

4.) You must budget for minimum amounts of water (at least one quart) and food (at least one day’s worth) on the soldier’s person
This is mostly to make the motor/mech guys work a little. You might end up away from your vehicle, so you need to keep some minimums at hand. The above (especially for water) are particularly spartan minimums. But you need to have some food and water on your soldiers, even just a canteen and iron rations.

5.) You must provide a minimum standard of protection (some form of ballistic helmet, AND some form of body armor) on the soldier’s person.
Now I’m being mean. Yes, I know body armor is heavy. Get over it. You have the same political considerations as real military officers. Protect your boys in uniform. I’m not telling you what kind of body armor to wear, that’s up to you and your expected threat. A flak jacket with no plates is ok. A plate carrier with rifle plates and no supplemental soft armor is ok. But you gotta take something protective on the chest. And don’t forget that if you choose SAPI/ESAPI plates, they need soft armor backers to function as advertised. Yes, those count too. As does your plate/armor carrier. Similarly, your helmet must offer some amount of ballistic protection. PASGT is fine. A simple bump/climbing helmet isn’t.

You can always pack more, but some level of head/body protection should be standard and worn at all times.

6.) You must standardize on a weapons supplier, (i.e. choose NATO stuff, or Russian stuff, or Chinese stuff, but no mixing)
This one’s just another real world constraint. You likely have a friend you buy all your small arms from. So do so.

You can have plenty of fun making various specialist loadouts, but you should start with the basic rifleman. Have fun!

12 thoughts on “Infantry Kit Challenge

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  3. John Rowe

    Just about every army in history has researched this very issue. This is actually one of my principal areas of interest. Just about everyone has concluded that you don’t want soldiers carrying more than about a third of their body weight if you want them to fight at the end of any march. The more you reduce the soldier’s load, the better the soldier is at the point of decision. METL (Mission Essential Task List) is one way of judging the soldier’s load for each mission. It’s as good as any.

    Reply
    1. parvusimperator Post author

      Oh aye, it’s absolutely terrible. Lots of fun to try to do though. I still can’t get to 1/3 body weight for an (average-ish) corn-fed American trooper. 🙂

      I’ve heard a lot about the soldier’s load problem, and only S.L.A. Marshall actually tries to stick to the limit that he supports. Much more fun if you attempt the game yourself. And I do mean attempt, soldiers are human, after all, and happily screw up the best laid plans of staff officers and armchair generals.

      I’m pretty good about throwing weight charts around if you want to play along. Or google, that works too. Some stuff is devilishly tough to find weights for, though.

  4. Checkmate

    Thinkdefence has us covered (though with the usual emphasis on light infantry; should rename himself thinkoffense 😛 ):
    https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/overburdened-infantry-soldier/
    Love the Broadsword spine and the Virtus system.
    Interestingly enough most of the issues mentioned in the comments seem to revolve around batteries and electronics, and crew systems (40mm grenades, AT missiles and rockets, etc; seems like my mental acrobatics to get the gunner to be both the DM, and the mortar-man may have a point after all, allowing the use of a single type of grenade, which can be hand-thrown and rifle fired, eliminating the need for light and commando mortars, replacing them with light GPMG’s. Thus you get an increase in direct firepower, while maintaining indirect fire capability, making sure you also have enough MG’s in either roles).

    Reply
    1. parvusimperator Post author

      That article demands some serious review before I can comment properly. Thanks much. 🙂 It is nice to see some British equipment lists as a change from the usual American ones buried on my hard drive.

      Virtus needs more on the weights, or maybe I just haven’t found those yet. Anyway, I think the issue with modular systems is that no one (that isn’t elite special forces types) actually cuts down on the amount of armor they wear, so having a “modular” system is probably not going to help. Politics and concern for one’s career means that everyone goes outside “the wire” with all the armor.

      For rifle grenades, I’ve never been a big fan of them, so I’ll leave Fishbreath to comment further. I don’t think you can get one grenade to function well as both a thrown and rifle-fired grenade, mostly because of differing requirements. Mostly a suspicion on my part because I’ve never heard of anyone pulling the design off successfully. That said, they’re also not in vogue at all, so who knows about development. Seems easier to make 40mm LV grenades do what you need them to do. Or maybe everyone is just copying the Americans (and the Russians, who also copied the American concept). Anyway, AKs and M16s have cup-type grenade launchers available for tossing hand grenades.

      I think it might be instructive, especially for light infantry, to consider what it is we expect them to do, and how much access to vehicles they have. Also, how much access the enemy in that terrain would have. I always see more equipment being added, but never a why, and that might be a nice place to start for once. Especially now that most units have some kind of wheeled/tracked transportation for the vast majority of their operations.

    2. Checkmate

      Apart from the fascinating history the French have with them (and the FN FAL), and the fact that the French are still using them and seem determined to continue to use them (see the provisions the HK 416 has for firing them; they also seem to swear by their effectiveness), what struck me was the Japanese decision to adopt one out of the blue instead of using the M203:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_06_rifle_grenade

    3. parvusimperator Post author

      The French have a long history of doing things their own way, other people be damned. And I love them for it. And they have seen some combat, so I trust it’s not a grossly suboptimal system. My French reading skills are quite poor, but I’m always interested in sources.

      I’d be interested in the why of the Japanese decision too, but I also view it with a little bit of skepticism because when was the last time the JGSDF saw combat? I think a better defense of the concept might be the Israelis with their SIMON breach grenade and a few other specialized variants, though they also use M203s. I don’t see much about better range or much of an effectiveness difference between M203 and rifle grenades. Perhaps I’m missing something.

      Also M203 is a trifle dated. The M320 is a much improved model, though I have more of a grenadier discussion pending. Stay tuned!

      I would like to know what threats are actually intended to be engaged with a HEAT warhead that tiny. The LAW72 is pretty marginal as an antiarmor weapon, and that has a 66mm-calibre warhead.

    4. Checkmate

      The decision for Japan may have something to do with geography. Less straight lines, they might value it’s indirect fire role more (rifle grenades are used similarly to light mortars, whereas 40mm ones are look and shoot; ). They shouldn’t be used against armored vehicles, but some people are just weird like that ‘shrugs’.
      I mean to cut down on the differing types of munitions carried by soldiers: right now they have to have 40mm, regular grenades and light mortar rounds. If they could carry a single triple use system, why not? I see no problem lobbing these things like regular grenades. Yes, they have a more elongated shape, but so did the potato mashers of WWII. Just make sure the fins are folded so you don’t lose energy in flight.
      Also 10 points for masculinity:
      https://www.rumaniamilitary.ro/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/3.jpg

    5. parvusimperator Post author

      hahaha, nice!

      Anyway, while M203 etc are often used in a point-shooting sort of fashion, there are some high angle capabilities given how slow those rounds are. And there are fancy sighting systems to boot, e.g. this mount for aimpoints and lasers, or this high tech thing, or the PSQ-18A (old).

      Wouldn’t light mortar rounds only be part of the support weapon platoon? Or are you thinking they should be deployed ‘lower’ in the table?

  5. Checkmate

    The support platoon is more likely to use the excellent 81mm mortar. The 60 and former 51 is part of every platoon’s support squad. I don’t like support squads, would much rather have every squad use the ability for indirect fire out to about 1000 metres rather than wait for redeployment of an element that may not come in time.

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